Kidney disease stages refer to five (5) distinct categories that are used to define the severity of kidney failure. These 5 categories help to determine the most effective treatment for patients with kidney disease.
The five stages of kidney disease are determined by the level of kidney function.
Stage 1 is the mildest degree of kidney failure.
Stages 2 to 5 are classifications of chronic kidney disease that are progressively more severe. As kidney disease progresses from stage 2 to stage 5, kidney function declines.
Stage 5 is the most severe form of chronic kidney disease and is referred to as end stage renal disease (ESRD).
The timeframe in which kidney disease progresses from stage 1 to stage 5 can be extensive. In some cases it can take up to several months, or years, or sometimes decades for chronic kidney disease to move from sage 1 to stage 5 renal failure.
Chronic kidney disease is the gradual decline of kidney function over an extended period of 3 months or more. When kidney function quickly declines (over a period less than 3 months) it is classified as acute kidney failure.
Basically, the degree of kidney failure is determined by the level of kidney function, and kidney function is primarily determined by the glomerular filtration rate (GFR).
GFR is the amount of filtrate that is formed per minute by the kidneys, as they filter the blood to remove waste products.
During the process of filtering the blood, there is an exchange of fluids and chemicals between the kidneys and blood plasma. Useful chemicals and fluids are returned to the blood plasma but waste products are converted to urine, which is subsequently expelled from the body.
The Glomerulus is the primary filtering unit of microscopic structures in the kidneys known as nephrons. As the Glomerulus filters the blood it forms a fluid called Glomerular filtrate. This fluid is similar to blood plasma except that it has almost no protein.
The next two stages of kidney disease are classified as severe. Treatment for severe chronic kidney disease requires more than just diet, exercise and medication for underlying conditions.
The early stages of kidney disease can be detected by routine medical examinations. It is, therefore, advisable to have regular medical check-ups (at least once a year).
Early detection of chronic kidney disease provides the best opportunity for effective treatment, which can help to prevent or delay adverse outcomes associated with chronic kidney disease. The first two kidney disease stages (stages 1 and 2) offer the greatest possibilities for effective treatments.